Trailing Portland 7-3 at half, Thorton Academy had only 18 offensive yards and faced being the runner-up in the top class of Maine football in back-to-back seasons.
Junior quarterback Wyatt Benoit led the Golden Trojans with 87 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the second half, including a 66 yard scoring run, to win the golden football 24-14. A 42 yard pass to Brady Kezal set up a one yard run for Henry Bunce to put Thorton Academy up 10-7. Portland then went three and out and a shanked punt went backwards. The Golden Trojans then responded with a 13 yard scoring run by Benoit. The Bulldogs then had a punt tipped and the back-to-back punts netted only ten yards. Portland’s defense bailed then out after a big hit forced a fumble from Benoit.
At that point Thorton Academy had 96 total yards to negative three for Portland in the third quarter. Three plays later, a short pass from Louis Thurston to Hunter Temple saw the senior receiver break several tackles as he ran 58 yards to the endzone and cut the lead to 17-14. However, that was the last offensive flurry from the Bulldogs as they amassed only 12 more offensive yards in the final quarter. Special teams hindered Portland in a game where both offenses struggled to get going. The Bulldogs missed a field goal to end the half and had three bad punts, one leading to a Thorton Academy touchdown. Those mistakes compounded Portland’s offensive struggles as Thurston finished 5-20 for 109 yards with a score and a pick and missed several open receivers in the first half.
The Bulldog’s lone touchdown in the first half came on a pass from running back Cordell Jones to Temple who ran wide open for 59 yard touchdown. After running for over 180 yards, including the game winning score last week against Oxford Hills, the star back was hed to just 21 yards on ten rushes. Jones also caught two passes for 20 yards. Portland finished with just 53 rushing yards on 25 carries. Thorton Academy running back Mauricio Sunderland didn’t fair any better, finishing with 50 yards on 20 carries but was key in salting out the game. Benoit had 90 yards on 15 carries with none being bigger then him scrambling 66 yards on a busted screen pass for the game sealing touchdown. Benoit finished 8-13 for 78 yards. The Golden Trojans rushed for 149 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.
This state championship game featured 21 total penalties for 157 net yards. Thorton Academy had 47 penalty yards to just 18 offensive yards in the first half and finished with 92 penalty yards to 227 offensive yards. Portland had 35 penalty yards to 139 offensive yards at half anf finished with 65 penalty yards to 221 offensive yards. Portland also turned the ball over twice, the fumble on the first drive leading to Thorton Academy’s only first half points, and the game sealing interception.
Portland knocked off the defending champs Oxford Hills to win their region but finishes the season as runner up in back-to-back seasons after falling to Skowhegan last year in the Class B state championship game.